Situating the Construct of Lean Start-Up: Adjacent Conversations and Possible Future Directions

Andrea Contigiani, Fisher College of Business, and Daniel Levinthal, Management, The Wharton School

Industrial and Corporate Change, Volume 28, Issue 3, June 2019

Abstract: The lean start-up approach has garnered tremendous amount of interest in recent years and has become mainstream among entrepreneurs. However, this practitioners’ conversation has been largely decoupled from the broader academic literature in management and technology strategy. This article attempts to fill this gap. We situate the construct of lean start-up within its underlying roots in the research traditions of organizational learning, real options, new product development, and technology evolution. We then comment on the economic and technological forces that have caused this organizational form to become prevalent. By juxtaposing these related, but distinct, lines of research we are able to identify a number of novel and interesting avenues for researchers in both entrepreneurship and the broader management literature that lie at the intersection of these domains.

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Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.